Something's Fishy

Welcome to Aqua Vin, the seafood restaurant for people who aren't all that thrilled about the stuff

There is one standout reason to trek to Aqua Vin tonight, and that's the Alaskan king crab legs. They are the size of a child's arm, boiled to perfection and served, classically, with red potatoes, lemon, butter and nothing else. If you've never eaten a massive crustacean, it's an experience you owe yourself, and you can have it with Aqua Vin's crab legs just as well as you can at virtually any seafood restaurant on either coast.

Going back to that whole "food without boundaries" concept, how did pastry chef Kathryn Kennealy veer so far off course in designing Aqua Vin's dessert menu? So much of it is temptingly worded and undeniably delicious (I mean, come on, it's dessert), but not what it claims to be. If you want to buck tradition and make an "all-chocolate" tiramisu, fine, but this offering really is a cake-and-mousse parfait cupped in a chocolate shell -- nary a ladyfinger in sight, and the cake is not soaked in alcohol. The bananas Foster trifle is not bananas Foster, an old New Orleans dessert of sliced bananas sautéed with brown sugar and rum and served warm with vanilla ice cream. This is a banana-cream layer cake garnished with a couple of stubs of glazed bananas. The pumpkin-brioche bread pudding is a slightly moist pumpkin-bread muffin. The apple dumpling filled with Camembert, macerated figs and walnut praline outright lacked Camembert.

Aqua Vin isn't really a seafood restaurant; it's more a 
seafood restaurant for people who are embarrassed to 
admit that they don't really love seafood.
Jennifer Silverberg
Aqua Vin isn't really a seafood restaurant; it's more a seafood restaurant for people who are embarrassed to admit that they don't really love seafood.

Details

Maryland blue crab cakes $11.95
Calamari salad $9.50
Salmon $18.95
Ribeye $24.95
Bananas Foster trifle $6.50

636-532-9300. Hours: 11 a.m.-1 a.m. Mon.-Sat.; 4-11 p.m. Sun.

16125 Chesterfield Parkway

Despite all these criticisms, a night at Aqua Vin certainly qualifies as a fine-dining excursion. (The prices alone dictate that.) Yet on one of two visits, the dessert course was presented before new utensils were placed and while leftover sharing plates from the main course were still on the table. There was also a forgotten entrée order, plus a drinking straw that merited three requests before it was brought to the table on a slow Monday night. When you're paying this much for dinner, such service shortcomings are as unforgivable as the fate that befalls the unsuspecting salmon -- and may be the deciding factor in determining just how pesci a mood you're in.

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